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Being able to use your house as a shelter after a major earthquake is almost as important as making sure you are going to be safe inside your home during the earthquake. Wood frame houses generally do well in earthquakes, as long as they are secured to the foundation. If they are not, they will most likely slip off their foundation during a major earthquake.  Depending on the design, they may need additional reinforcement as well.  Houses built before 1975 were most often not even bolted to the foundation. This not only increases your risk during the earthquake but doesn't allow you to safely use your home as a shelter after the earthquake. This leads to our recommendations:

Recommendation - Secure Foundation

Secure your house to its foundation (If it is not already).  Secure heavy items to the walls.

Securing your house to its foundation will take some specialty brackets and expertise.  We recommend contacting an expert for this. You can get a free quote to retrofit your house as well as determine if it is bolted to its foundation. Securing bookcases, heavy frames, or TV's can be done yourself with some simple hardware. 

Hire an expert to secure the house to the foundation and or reinforce weak designs:

Total Cost: $0-$7000

Depending on the year your home was built, you might not need to do any retrofitting.  However, we recommend consulting with an expert.  Often they will do a free assessment which will often determine if your home is strapped/bolted to the foundation.


  1. Prepared Northwest Inc (Local to Lake Oswego)

  2. Northwest Seismic

  3. Earthquake Tech

Have an expert do an evaluation on your house.  Some house designs are more susceptible to earthquake damage than others and you should know now.  It might take you some time to save and make the investment, but it will most certainly help with the resale here in the northwest. Many of the retrofit companies will give you a free estimate.

Recommendation - Learn to assess the damage to your home

In the absence of a structural engineer to inspect your home after an earthquake, these resources can help you to determine if you are comfortable sheltering in your own home. Be sure to reassess after each aftershock. - update Last Updated: January 3, 2018 - 12:13 - a detailed checklist which may be of use to some.

Recommendation - Temporary Shelter
EX - Temp Shelter

Be prepared to rebuild a temporary shelter inside your house. Camping supplies will work.  Some tarps or plastic sheeting and a stable gun will be useful to fix broken windows.

Windows are not going to survive a major earthquake. You are going to want to keep the outdoor elements out of your house. Being able to fix a few windows to create a "indoor" shelter is going to be helpful.  If the earthquake happens during the winter, this will be a key to keeping warm.  Pick a room or two and determine how many tarps or plastic it would take to section off.  Consider using your kitchen and a small bedroom.  The kitchen will be nice for cooking and preparing meals and a small bedroom will be easier to keep warm even with just the heat from your bodies.

Shopping List - Temporary Shelter

Option 1: Tarps and a staple gun

Total Cost: ~$50


  1. Tarps (window size dependent)

  2. Staple Gun

  3. Staples

Option 2: Plastic sheeting and a staple gun

Total Cost: $35 


  1. Plastic Sheeting

  2. Staple Gun

  3. Staples

Option 3: Tent

Total Cost: $65+


  1. Tent - you can also find good options used on craigslist or nextdoor

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